If you want to have a successful website you can just write and hope for the best. The problem with that approach, however, is that if you use your gut and everybody else uses statistics and big data to read what their audience wants and to cater to those needs, then it’s a little like running with a blindfold on. Sure, you can charge like a bull, but how do you know you’re even heading for the same finish line?
Now don’t get me wrong, you don’t want to be a slave to Google and its statistics. There should still be space for your personal identity, your ideas and what your gut tells you. Just make sure that you don’t only depend on those, because if you do that then the risk is ever present that whenever you do manage to attract some people, they’ll flake away again as they don’t find what they’re looking for.
Okay, got that? Then let’s look at how you can use analytics to get an insight into what your audience really wants.
There are a heck of a lot of statistics in Google. If you don’t know what you’re going to do before you open her up, then chances are you won’t see the forest through the trees. For that reason, make sure that you’ve got an idea of what you’re actually trying to measure.
The best thing that you can therefore do is take a look at what the competition is doing. What are they focusing on? What is working well for them? Check out their visuals, their layout and more. Now this doesn’t mean you have to copy them a letter for letter (or visual for visual) but it will give you some idea of what you should try.
Next, go to your site and check out a number of statistics. Some numbers you might want to look at:
- How many visitors are you getting
- How many percent bounce or drop off after only viewing one site
- How many sites do people look at on average
- What percentage are new visitors
In this way, when you start producing content, you can see what content moves these numbers in the right direction. Now, which stats should you look at?
If you want more visitors, then obviously stats like ‘new visitors’ matter. If you want engagement, then the other stats are more important.
Here you can start learning your first lesson. Which piece of content have people sticking around for longer? Which one has a high bounce rate? The first kind of content you want to hit up more often. The second kind of content does not spark the same amount of interest.
A caveat: Be aware that people from different sources – like organic search versus social media – have different bounce rates, different numbers of pages views and so forth. So it is better to compare a subsection, like only people coming from LinkedIn to reduce your noise.
So next you take those posts that got you the most of what you want and explore why this might have been so. Here the statistics can be the most revealing.
For example, did you get a lot of new visitors from specific blog posts? Then chances are the title worked well to draw them in, along with the visuals.
Now take the best performers in terms of drawing in audiences and see if those headlines have something in common. Do they ask questions? Are they listicles? Is it that you used clever language? Is it that you provided numbers?
Experiment with using that structure again.
Similarly, explore the subject matters. What subject matters are more successful? Which ones are not? And most importantly, what articles belong to a subject that you haven’t yet written enough about?
The best thing you can do is rank your subjects along two dimensions. Have you saturated your market with these types of articles and how successful are they? The subject you want to focus on are the more successful that you haven’t written about too much.
What about the keywords?
Here you want to see if long-tailed keywords or branded words are doing better for you. To figure out which works best, simply aggregate over where you’ve used which ones and average the result. Then you should have a decent idea.
And the Visuals?
Is it a certain kind of visual that seems to do better than other ones? Some elements to look for are: Are you using people or pictures of objects? What color schemes are you using? Are you using busier pictures or are they more minimalistic?
How long is the piece?
Some people like denser pieces that are longer. Other people prefer articles that are shorter. Which does your audience seem to prefer?
So once you’ve got this range of ideas written down and carefully written down you know what you’re supposed to do, right? No. You see, the problem is that you can’t quite be sure which of the above categories led to the success. Was it the visuals or the headlines? Was it the length or the keywords?
For that, you need the next step. You need to A/B test.
Here the idea is that you create texts that are almost identical but differ on one of the key dimensions you’ve figured out in the analysis above. The best way to do this is to actually get other people involved so that your own assumptions about what works are not subtly woven into the test. For example, get somebody to pick the pictures along the dimensions you’ve specified. Also, get a writing service to produce your articles (here is a page where you can find the best writing websites).
Then run an A/B test and look at the numbers. Here the rubber will really hit the road, as you can test out some of the sticking points and really get a handle on what kind of audience your audience really likes.
Yes, this is an elaborate and involved process. The thing is, if you do it correctly and apply it well you should see your numbers start to go up. It won’t happen today. It won’t happen a week from now. It will, however, happen.
And that’s what matters.
What’s important is that you keep moving through the routine and keep refining what you’re doing. In this way, you’ll make certain that you get a grip on what your audience wants. From there it will become ever easier to understand the bumps and the spikes that come along and utilize them to make your campaign better.